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Donald Trump, terrorism and Brexit: 10 big stories that shook the world in 2016

Year in review 2016: The best photos from around the world
WATCH ABOVE: The best photos from around the world

The surprise election of Donald TrumpBritain’s exit from the EU and terrorist attacks in Europe were among the biggest news stories that made headlines in 2016.

This year was marked by violence as terror attacks in Belgium and France left Europe in mourning. A gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida was the site of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire named Canada’s news story of 2016

Millions around the world also said goodbye to influential musicians David Bowie, Prince and Canadian Leonard Cohen.

While 2016 for many was a year to forget, here is a look back at 10 major international news stories in no particular order:

Donald Trump wins U.S. Election

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From polls and pundits to media, when it came to the U.S. presidential election, almost no one predicted Donald J. Trump would win.

Trump — who defeated Hillary Clinton after a bitterly divisive campaign — ran on a platform of anti-immigration and protectionist trade policies that resonated with white middle-class voters and stunned the rest of the world.

READ MORE: What President Donald Trump will mean for Canada

His campaign was marred by scandals and controversies including graphic recorded comments from the Republican candidate describing sexual assault and accusations of sexual misconduct from more than a dozen women.

However, in the end nothing was able to derail the Trump train. And although Clinton won the popular vote nationwide by nearly 2.9 million votes, Donald Trump is slated to be sworn in as 45th president of the United States on Jan. 20, 2017.

Brexit: UK votes to leave the European Union

It was an event simply known as Brexit.

Britain’s stunning vote in June to leave the European Union sent shockwaves around the world as global markets plummeted and the British pound fell to a 31-year low.

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By a slim margin of 52 to 48 per cent, Britons voted to exit from the EU, which led to the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron. Theresa May succeeded him.

READ MORE: British Prime Minister May plans to keep Brexit plan on track despite court ruling

The push to leave the EU was spearheaded by British politicians on the far-right including Nigel Farage, former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP). He championed issues of immigration and nationalism. He later resigned following the Brexit vote.

A much criticized UKIP campaign poster featuring thousands of migrants gathered near a border alongside the words “Breaking Point” became a symbol of fear that fuelled some Brits’ to push for Brexit.

“When I came here 17 years ago and I said that I wanted to lead a campaign to get Britain to leave the European Union, you all laughed at me,” Farage told the EU parliament following the Brexit vote. “Well I have to say, you’re not laughing now.”

Dozens killed at Pulse nightclub in Florida

A night of drinking and dancing at a Florida nightclub quickly turned to scenes of horror after a gunman entered carrying an assault-type rifle and opened fire.

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In the early morning hours of June 12, 29-year-old Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 others inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. He was later killed in a shootout with police.

“People are getting hit by bullets, blood was everywhere,” recounted Patience Carter, 20, who survived the shooting.

READ MORE: New body cam footage captures chaotic scenes after Orlando Nightclub shootings

Candlelight vigils and memorials sprung up across the U.S., Canada and around the world to mourn the victims in one of the worst mass shootings and the deadliest attacks against LGBTQ people in U.S. history.

911 call released by police revealed that Mateen swore allegiance to the leader of the so-called Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. However, an investigation by the CIA found no links between ISIS and Mateen.

The shooting also led Donald Trump to renew his call for banning Muslim immigration to the U.S.

Terror attacks in Brussels and Nice

European countries continued to see horrific acts of violence this year with major attacks carried out in France and Brussels.

On July 14, a 19-tonne truck was deliberately driven into crowds celebrating Bastille Day on the Promenade D’Anglais in Nice. Eighty-six people were killed and more than 400 were injured. The driver was later killed in a hail of bullets by police.

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WATCH: Suicide bombings shake Brussels

The attack in Nice was preceded by three coordinated suicide bombings in Belgium in March that killed 32 civilians and injured another 300. The bombings occurred at Brussels Airport in Zaventem, and at Maelbeek metro station in the city’s downtown during morning rush hour. It was the deadliest attack in the country’s history.

READ MORE: Terrorist network behind Paris-Brussels attacks a ‘supercell’ of extremism

The so-called Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks and investigators later determined the perpetrators belonged to a terrorist cell, which had been involved in the November 2015 Paris attacks.

On Dec. 19, a truck rammed into crowds at a Christmas market in the heart Berlin killing 12 people and injuring 48 others. German authorities are investigating the tragedy as a “probable terrorist attack.”

Panama Papers

Panama Papers: Why it matters to Canadians
Panama Papers: Why it matters to Canadians

The Panama Papers, some 11.5 million documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, detailed how people — from world leaders, dictators and business people — used offshore accounts and shell companies to hide their wealth.

The leaks were published in April by The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), comprising of journalists from more than 100 media organizations in 80 countries.

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WATCH: Iceland’s PM resigns over fallout from Panama Papers allegations

Iceland’s PM resigns over fallout from Panama Papers allegations
Iceland’s PM resigns over fallout from Panama Papers allegations

More than 350 Canadians were listed in the trove of leaked documents, according to one report. And while it’s not illegal to set up an offshore account or business, the Panama Papers raised questions about how some wealthy Canadians use offshore entities to avoid paying taxes.

Police officers killed in Dallas and Louisiana

Tragedy unfolded in Dallas, Texas after a gunman ambushed and killed five police officers and injured nine others and two civilians on July 7.

The gunman, Micah Xavier Johnson, was reportedly angry over police shootings of black men. He was killed by a bomb attached to a remote control robot after a standoff with police.

WATCH: Alton Sterling shot by police in Baton Rouge

The shooting happened at the end of a peaceful protest against the police killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. The shooting deaths of Sterling and Castile occurred a few days before and sparked outrage across the country.

WATCH: Gunman kills three police officers in Baton Rouge

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Less than two weeks after the Dallas shooting, six police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, were shot by a gunman on July 17. Three died and three were hospitalized.

The shooter, identified as Eugene Gavin Long, had associated himself with organizations linked to black separatism and the sovereign citizen movement. He was shot and killed by a SWAT officer during a shootout.

Syria crisis deepens

The ongoing Syrian civil war, which has resulted in the death of more than 400,000 people since 2011, reached a bloody climax this year as airstrikes from President Bashar-al Assad and Russia continued to pound rebel held positions throughout the country.

Several ceasefires were nearly reached before falling apart as tens of thousands continued to die.

READ MORE: How Canadians can help people in Aleppo

By mid-December, government forces reclaimed the city of Aleppo from rebels and Islamist fighters. The United Nations called it a “meltdown of humanity” as civilians were reportedly killed trying to flee the city.

On Dec. 19, the Russian ambassador to Turkey was shot dead by a police officer who shouted “Don’t forget Aleppo” as he pulled the trigger. The images and video of the incident were shared around the world.

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Hundreds killed in failed coup attempt in Turkey

In the evening hours of July 15, tanks rolled through the streets of Ankara and Istanbul as members of the Turkish Armed Forces attempted to overthrow the government of President Recep Erdogan.

Media outlets were forced off the air as members of the military stormed into television studios. Erdogan addressed the nation via FaceTime and urged people to take to the streets to stand up to the military faction behind the uprising. Turkey later blamed U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen for the failed coup.

READ MORE: Attempted coup in Turkey leaves over 265 dead

At least 290 people died and more than 1,400 were injured in the chaotic night of violence. The Turkish government arrested tens of thousands following the coup attempt and more than 50,000 people have been dismissed or fired from their jobs in the military, public service and police agencies.

The year our heroes died

Canadian singer Leonard Cohen dead at 82
Canadian singer Leonard Cohen dead at 82

Whether you’re a fan of music or sports, 2016 was a tough year.

Renowned musicians including David Bowie (Jan. 8), Prince (April 21), and Leonard Cohen (Nov. 7) passed away this year.

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And the world of sports lost some of its heroes including Muhammad Ali (June 3), Gordie Howe (June 10), Arnold Palmer (Sept. 25) and Craig Sager, a longtime sports broadcaster, (Dec. 15).

Earthquakes strike in Italy and Ecuador

Massive earthquakes struck Italy and Ecuador earlier this year killing hundreds and injuring thousands more.

READ MORE: Grief erupts in Italy as nation honours, buries quake dead, death toll rises to 291

On April 16, a 7.8 earthquake struck near the coast of Ecuador leaving nearly 700 people dead and injuring more than 16,000. A mother and her 12-year-old son from Quebec were among the four Canadians killed.

In August, a powerful earthquake struck central Italy killing nearly 300 people. The areas hardest hit by the quake were the tiny towns of Amatrice and Accumoli, roughly 100 kilometres northeast of Rome, and Pescara del Tronto, 25 kilometres further east.

Photos and video showed levelled buildings, crumbling landscapes as some 15,000 residents were left homeless as a result of the quakes.

*With files from Adam Frisk, Nick Logan and The Associated Press